During January, Cervical Health Awareness Month, the Nassau University Medical Center (NUMC) wants to spread the word that cervical cancer is preventable and highly treatable if found early. Getting screened for cervical cancer with a Pap test is the key to prevention and survival. Screening is available to both insured and uninsured women at NUMC.
“The New York State Department of Health’s Cancer Services Program (CSP) provides free cervical cancer screening to uninsured women—a subpopulation of women less likely to get screened,” said Victor F. Politi, MD, FACP, FACEP, NuHealth/NUMC’s president and CEO. “According to the most recent New York State data, about 70 percent of women without insurance have had a Pap test, compared to roughly 85 percent of women with health insurance.”
The impact of insurance status on screening behavior was recently highlighted by American Cancer Society researchers. They found that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was likely the cause of a large increase in the number of younger women (under the age of 26) getting diagnosed for cervical cancer at an early stage. The ACA allows for dependents to remain on their parents’ health insurance until the age of 26, giving these women the opportunity to get Pap tests, which can find cervical cancer early.
“It’s wonderful that the ACA has helped some women get screened for cancer, but the fact remains that there are people who still remain uninsured,” said Dr. Politi. “The Cancer Services Program is here to provide life-saving cancer screening to our most needy residents.”
The New York State Cancer Services Program provides free cervical cancer screening to uninsured women, ages 40 and older, in every county and borough of the state. The program also provides free breast and colorectal cancer screening to eligible New York State residents. There usually aren’t any symptoms of cervical cancer in its earliest, most treatable stage, making regular Pap tests the key to an early diagnosis.
“It is especially important for women who have not had a Pap test within the past five years to get screened. Six out of ten cervical cancers occur in women who have never received a Pap test or have not had one in the past five years. Don’t delay, talk to your doctor or call the Cancer Services Program at NUMC,” (516-572-3300) said Dr. John Riggs, chair of OB/GYN at NUMC.
To find a Cancer Services Program in your community, visit, call 866-442-CANCER (2262) or visit www.health.ny.gov/diseases/cancer/services/community_resources.
For more information about cervical cancer, visit www.health.ny.gov/diseases/cancer/cervical.